Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, Massachusetts, and Ballet Austin in Texas announced last week they are partnering to provide students and teachers of dance at both organizations expanded teaching, learning, and performance opportunities.
The organizations will share resources, facilities, and professional expertise, according to Metro West Daily News.
“We are thrilled to partner with Ballet Austin to provide our students and faculty of dance with access to the talent and resources of one of the nation’s premier ballet companies,” Michael Owen, Walnut Hill director of dance, said. “The nature of this collaboration is incredibly unique and opens up a dynamic set of possibilities for our student dancers.”
The two organizations will work to identify Walnut Hill seniors who are ideal candidates to enter Ballet Austin’s Butler Fellowship Program, a year-long, post-high school training initiative. Fellows rehearse and perform with Ballet Austin’s companies. Up to 15 fellowships are awarded annually.
Ballet Austin associate artistic director Michelle Martin will visit Walnut Hill in October to teach a series of master classes, and the organizations are pursuing other potential opportunities to collaborate.
Walnut Hill recently announced an academic partnership program with Boston Conservatory that allows select graduates to earn a BFA in Dance in three years at the conservatory.
To see the original story, visit http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/article/20140918/NEWS/140915990. For more information, visit http://walnuthillarts.org/admission/arts/dance/ballet-austin-partnership/.
The Miami City Ballet is transforming under the leadership of artistic director Lourdes Lopez, who took over from founder Edward Villella two years ago, but how the changes will ultimately affect the company’s artistic profile—the way it dances, and its place in the dance world and in Miami’s cultural landscape—remains to be seen.
The Miami Herald said the most obvious changes are in the company leadership and staff. There has been an almost complete turnover—from a new board president and new executive director to new teachers at the company school. The board has become better organized and more functional, with a more clearly defined and helpful relationship with the company.
“I think Lourdes is gaining confidence,” says new executive director Michael Scolamiero, who held the same position at Pennsylvania Ballet for 17 years before moving to Miami in July. “She’s arriving at an identity for the company.”
Sweeping changes at an artistic institution mean far more than new marketing strategies; they lead to differences in aesthetic, in character, in identity. For Miami City Ballet, the changes point toward a repertory and style that are more mixed, more contemporary, and more similar to those of other U.S. ballet troupes; a more corporate organizational culture; and a new emphasis on community relationships.
The casual, mom-and-pop shop atmosphere the troupe had under Villella and his wife, Linda Villella, who founded and headed the company’s school, has been replaced with a more businesslike approach.
At the company’s school, which has become a regular source of the troupe’s dancers, enrollment and tuition are up for both the year-round program and the summer intensive. The focus of the training has shifted away from Villella’s emphasis on energy, urgency, and musicality—qualities that distinguished MCB from other companies. New teachers emphasize more traditional technique and a wider range of styles that will presumably prepare students for a different repertory, but also seem likely to make MCB’s dancers more like those at other troupes.
New board president Sue Kronick says the changes are inevitable, and will ultimately be positive. “There are transitions in any business,” says Kronick. “Some are messy, and some are good. The question is, ‘What is it that breeds success?’ ”
To read the full story, visit http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/09/13/4344947/miami-city-ballet-tranforms-itself.html.
The new American Ballet Theatre ABT YouTube channel, under the channel name of “ABTBalletTheatre,” will offer an in-depth and candid look at the company as it covers such topics as performance rituals, perseverance, and competition.
Current dancers from all ranks will be showcased in two or three minute Meet the Dancer vignettes that explore their experiences and points of view. Videos featuring special events and company activity will also be posted, along with behind-the-scenes footage of rehearsals and day-to-day company life.
Access to the ABT YouTube Channel can be found at http://www.youtube.com/user/ABTBalletTheatre.
Grand Rapids [MI] Ballet has received $1 million from the estate of philanthropist Peter M. Wege, a gift that triples the size of the company’s endowment fund.
MLive said Wege, former chairman of Steelcase, Inc., and a patron of the arts in West Michigan, died in July at age 94.
Grand Rapids Ballet’s Meijer-Royce Center for Dance, which opened in 2001, was built with Wege’s support. Six years later, the company opened the doors of its 300-seat Peter Martin Wege Theatre, which Wege, whose middle name was Melvin, insisted was named, not for him, but for his father, who founded Steelcase.
Grand Rapids Ballet artistic director Patricia Barker, who took the helm of the company in July 2010, danced at the inaugural performance in the theater, built with a 50-by-50–foot surface and a sprung dance floor.
“Peter Wege was a true blessing to our organization and the community at large and will always hold a special place in our hearts,” said Glenn Del Vecchio, executive director of Grand Rapids Ballet.
The Wege Foundation previously had contributed $1 million toward Grand Rapids Ballet’s $2.5 million campaign to retire the company’s debts, build a cash reserve, develop new repertoire, and create a brand-new production of The Nutcracker. The production, designed by illustrator Chris Van Allsburg, a native of Grand Rapids who wrote the children’s book, The Polar Express, will debut in December.
A specific use for the $1 million gift from Wege’s personal estate to Grand Rapids Ballet’s endowment fund will be decided at a later date. “We’ve never dealt with this situation before,” Del Vecchio said. “We’ll put together a plan in the coming months.”
To see the original story, visit http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2014/09/grand_rapids_ballet_receives_1.html#incart_river.
The San Francisco Symphony is seeking 12 ballet or musical-theater dancers/actors able to create character through movement and with a strong comic sensibility for its holiday season production of A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Auditions for the roles of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, and other members of the Peanuts gang will be held September 20 from 10am to 6pm at The Nourse Theater, 201-299 Hayes Street, with callbacks September 21 from 10am to 2pm at Davies Symphony Hall, Zellerbach Rehearsal Room C, 300 Franklin Street, San Francisco. There are roles available for teenage and adult (ages 18 to 25) male dancers, teenage and adult (ages 18 to 35) female dancers, and one 8- to 10-year-old female dancer. Rehearsals will begin December 10.
A Charlie Brown Christmas is a 30-minute, live-action performance with orchestral accompaniment and video sets that will be presented as part of the symphony’s Christmas Spectacular, running December 19 to 24 at Davies Symphony Hall.
A Charlie Brown Christmas is directed and choreographed by Liza Gennaro, in collaboration with New York Theatre Ballet.
Interested dancers can schedule an audition by emailing a headshot and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. Walk-ups will not be accepted. Pay will be competitive and commensurate with experience.
Five of the world’s leading ballet companies will stream live behind-the-scenes action from their rehearsal studios on October 1, the first-ever World Ballet Day.
Starting at the beginning of the dancers’ day, each of the five ballet companies—Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, and San Francisco Ballet—will take the lead for a four-hour period streaming live from their headquarters. Starting with the Australian Ballet in Melbourne, the live link then passes across time zones to Moscow to London to Toronto to San Francisco.
The live streaming will throw a spotlight on the differences in style between the five companies as they follow a very similar routine, but approach choreography and performance in the ways that have made them unique on the world stage.
Viewers will be able to engage and interact with dancers, choreographers, and coaches who live and breathe ballet every day of their working lives, asking questions throughout the day via Twitter, as well as having the opportunity to submit a video of themselves doing a pirouette. The day’s streaming will be repeated on YouTube in full, with edited highlights also made available for further viewing.
World Ballet Day grew out of the success of Royal Ballet Live, a nine-hour live streaming of the Royal Ballet in class and rehearsal via YouTube and The Guardian website in March 2012 which attracted 200,000 views of the live stream, with repeat broadcasts receiving 2.5 million views.
The Joffrey Ballet School and Complexions Contemporary Ballet have combined forces to launch a new national competition, Élite Dance Tournament.
In its inaugural year, the tournament will provide an apprenticeship with Complexions Dance Company, a full-time position with the Joffrey Concert Group, and $180,000 in cash and scholarships, including $10,000 each for the “ultimate” dancer, studio, and choreographer.
2015 tour locations include:
• Tampa—University of South Florida, February 27 to March 1
• Brooklyn, New York—Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts, March 13 to 15
• Denton, Texas—Texas Women’s University, March 20 to 23
• San Francisco—ODC Theater, March 27 to 29
• Charlotte, North Carolina—Blumenthal Performing Arts Centers and Booth Playhouse, April 10 to 12
• Long Beach, California—California State University, May 1 to 3
• Finals—May 22 to 24 (location TBA)
Following a strong commitment to education, all competitors will be required to participate in master classes in their discipline. Instructors and judges will include Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson of Complexions; and Michael Blake, Jo Matos, Davis Robertson, and Josie Walsh of the Joffrey Ballet School. Special guest judges will be on hand in several tour locations. They include: Jodie Gates (Long Beach), Christina Lyon (San Francisco), Nigel Lythgoe (finals), Adam Sklute (Texas), and Ethan Stiefel (New York).
Élite will feature the judging system DanceComp Genie, which allows individual dancers and groups to access their scores and corrections, including listening to each judge’s notes while reviewing a playback of their performance online.
For more information, visit https://www.elitedancetournament.com/.
Michael Sharp was not only Cincinnati Ballet’s fiercest Captain Hook, he was also the funniest. When he took on the outlandish drag role of Mother Ginger in The Nutcracker, even the stagehands lined up in the wings to see what hilarity Sharp would unleash on the audience that day.
Cincinnati.com reported that Sharp, 60, died September 2 of a pulmonary embolism.
“He was so handsome and so funny and so full of life,” Victoria Morgan, Cincinnati Ballet artistic director and CEO, said. “He had such a great sense of humor—audiences adored him.”
Sharp, born in Lafayette, Indiana, was an unlikely candidate for a successful dance career. He didn’t take his first ballet class until he was in his mid-20s, according to his older brother, Jim Sharp, of Lafayette.
“He had a desk job of some sort and was feeling out of shape,” Kay Hurley, Sharp’s third wife, said, but a photo of Mikhail Baryshnikov spurred him to take class. Within a year, he had moved from Lafayette to Chicago, began studying at the noted Stone-Camryn School.
When a friend auditioned for a short-term job in Cincinnati Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker in 1979, Sharp tagged along. He got cast, and never left. He performed character roles with the ballet well into the last decade. After leaving Cincinnati Ballet he began a career as a painter and sculptor.
“Hearts are breaking today,” former dancer Jacqui Haas wrote on the Cincinnati Ballet Alumni Facebook page. “Michael was a wonderful dance partner, actor, comedian, performer, and friend . . . when I look back at my time as a dancer with the company, his animated and joyful presence is an enormous part of all my memories.”
Former New York City Ballet dancer Patricia McBride, now associate artistic director at Charlotte [NC] Ballet, will be recognized by the 2014 Kennedy Center Honors for her work as a ballerina and devotion to the field of ballet.
McBride will receive her Kennedy Center Honors medallion on December 6, along with other 2014 honorees: singer Al Green, actor and filmmaker Tom Hanks, singer-songwriter Sting, and comedienne Lily Tomlin. A star-studded celebration saluting the talent and work of the honorees set for December 7 will be broadcast on CBS on December 30 at 9pm.
“I am honored, astonished, moved, humbled, and ecstatic to have been chosen by the Kennedy Center Honors committee as a 2014 honoree. This is the giant of all honors! I have so many wonderful memories of dancing at the Kennedy Center with the New York City Ballet, and George Balanchine and Jerry Robbins, who made this all possible for me,” McBride said in KnightArts.
McBride joined NYCB in 1959, and in 1961 became the company’s youngest principal dancer. Over a three-decade career in New York, McBride performed more than 100 ballets—with several roles in masterworks by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins that were created for her.
Joining Charlotte Ballet in 1996, McBride, along with her husband Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, president and artistic director, have expanded and diversified Charlotte Ballet’s repertoire and continued its reputation for excellence.
To see the original story, visit http://www.knightarts.org/community/charlotte/charlotte-ballets-patricia-mcbride-to-become-a-kennedy-center-honoree.
Kathryn Morgan became severely ill in 2010 with a thyroid disorder, leaving New York City Ballet in 2012 to focus on recovering in her hometown of Mobile, Alabama.
Now, according to the New York Times, Morgan is focused on returning to the stage, and she isn’t doing it alone: In May, she started a YouTube channel, which currently has more than 6,800 subscribers. On Facebook, she has more than 87,000 followers. She also posts regularly on Instagram.
Her videos are geared toward aspiring ballet dancers and include hair and makeup tutorials, barre workouts and question-and-answer sessions in which viewers submit anonymous questions about topics ranging from hyperextension to the dilemma between attending college or pursuing a professional dance career.
Ms. Morgan’s advice is refreshingly no-nonsense. “Do not match your eye shadow to your costume,” she said, laughing. “Please don’t.”
But with more serious issues, she is careful yet firm with her counsel and plans to create stand-alone videos that delve deeper into topics like dieting. “I don’t want to encourage dieting, especially with young girls,” she said. “They’re still growing. I’ve seen, time and time again, these 13-year-olds with eating disorders.”
Mainly, Morgan bases her videos on what she would have liked to have learned from a professional dancer when she was growing up. “The thinking behind it is me catering to my 13-year-old self.”
She also reveals, perhaps unknowingly, the grit that it takes to make it back to the stage. Morgan has shed 25 of the 40 pounds she gained as a result of her illness, and this month is in New York to train with Garielle Whittle, a former faculty member at the City Ballet-affiliated School of American Ballet, and Nancy Bielski, her favorite teacher at Steps on Broadway.
Morgan plans to audition for ballet companies this fall and is hoping to end up in Europe.
In a statement, NYCB ballet master in chief Peter Martins said Morgan was one of the greatest talents he had ever seen. “Her decision to leave New York City Ballet was an enormous loss, but was, of course, necessary so that she could focus on her health.”
For Morgan, being able to open up about her illness has aided her healing. “I also love talking about it to show younger dancers that it’s not all wonderful all the time,” she said. “Once you get into a company, you’re not the star from then on. Even big stars have had problems that people don’t know about.”
Dancers in ballet start young and essentially grow up onstage; the experience of finding her voice online has helped Morgan transform from a girl into a woman. “I didn’t realize how much I was wrapped up in ballet until I got sick,” she said. “When I didn’t have ballet anymore, I couldn’t function. I didn’t know how to be a person.”
As a dancer, she said, self-worth comes down to whether you perform well or not, or how thin you are. “This has helped me be confident no matter where I am or what I look like,” she said. “It’s really helped me be a person rather than just a dancer.”
To read the original story, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/08/arts/dance/kathryn-morgan-uses-social-media-as-she-gears-for-her-return.html?ref=arts.
Vancouver’s Goh Ballet has created a special daytime program to provide support for parents who require care for their children while the British Columbia, Canada, teachers’ strike drags on past last week’s scheduled opening of school.
The province’s 41,000 public school teachers went on strike two weeks before the summer break started, booting half a million students out of class. The sticking points are pay, class size, and the amount of support staff per class.
A Goh Ballet release said the 8:30am to 3pm program began September 2, and was designed to continue into subsequent weeks should the strike persist and students remain out of school. The curriculum includes ballet classes, dance history lessons, choreographic labs, and opportunities to watch the academy’s Senior Professional Dancers train and rehearse.
“As a parent myself, I realize the challenges that can accompany something as displacing as this strike,” said director Chan Hon Goh. “I knew that we had to do whatever we could to assist families as they look towards a very busy September. We see this as an opportunity for students to gain additional artistic education while they are not in academic school.”
The daytime program is open to students ages 7 to 12 and costs $40 per day—the exact amount of the daily stipend offered by the provincial government to parents for each public school student under the age of 13 to help with day care costs during the strike.
For more information, visit http://gohballet.com/pdf/Media%20Advisory%20-%20Goh%20Ballet%20Provides%20Support%20During%20Strike.pdf.
Dancer turned historian Jennifer Homans, who wrote a sweeping history of ballet, Apollo’s Angels, is heading up a “ballet think tank” to consider how the classical art fits in today’s changing world and ask questions such as: “What is ballet going to become . . . what can it become?”
The New York Times said the new organization, the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University, where Homans is a scholar in residence, will open this month with the help of a $2 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Homans said its goals include establishing ballet as a serious subject of academic inquiry; drawing new voices into a discussion of its past, present, and future; and expanding the conversation beyond the confines of the dance world.
The center will grant a few fellowships each semester to people from the world of dance, academia, and beyond, and allow them to pursue a broad range of projects. That includes documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, who created the 1995 profile of American Ballet Theatre, Ballet, and is working on a ballet with choreographer James Sewell; and former New York City Ballet dancer Heather Watts, who wants to analyze and contextualize the ballets of George Balanchine for 21st-century audiences.
While the new center will not initially serve students, Homans said she hoped it would ultimately help ballet secure a greater toehold in academia. “You take Music 101, you take Art 101—where is the dance?” she asked. “And where is the ballet in particular? Here is an art form that has a history, a 400-year history, and is part of our civilization, and yet it doesn’t have a presence.”
In 1967, filmmaker Frederick Wiseman documented the residents and inmates at Bridgewater [MA] State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, in his film, Titicut Follies. Today, James Sewell of the Minneapolis-based Sewell Ballet is working with Wiseman on a new ballet based on that film.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune said the Wiseman documentary ignited controversy when state authorities sought to prevent its release, saying it violated inmates’ privacy. The legal case rolled through various jurisdictions, but the film was withheld from distribution for years. Wiseman went on to wide fame for his fly-on-the-wall documentaries on a variety of subjects, including high-school life, meat, public housing, boxing—and, in two movies, including a profile of American Ballet Theatre, the world of dance.
Sewell said Wednesday that he and Wiseman, 84, have been talking by phone about the project this summer, and that Wiseman is due in Minneapolis later in September for meetings and in-studio improvisation.
Sewell said the ballet, which may retain the movie’s title, is likely to require 10 male dancers, as well as other characters to portray the state hospital’s doctors and nurses. Likely to premiere in Minneapolis about two years from now, the ballet will include music and possibly video from the original film, Sewell said.
“When I first saw the film—so intense, so strange—I thought, ‘how could you make a ballet of this?’ But the elements are all there—humorous, poetic, horrifying, sad,” Sewell said.
The movie’s title comes from an annual variety show that Bridgewater officials and inmates staged at the hospital. “These violent criminals and mentally ill inmates would put on a show, singing Gershwin with pom-poms in their hands,” Sewell said.
To see the original story, visit http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/blogs/273809581.html#YWC3y29HjHbF4wLu.01.
The Ballet Company of East County, Brentwood, California, notified 81 children and teens that they would be performing in The Nutcracker this Christmas by posting the good news in their front yard while they were sleeping.
With the exception of the dancer cast in the lead role of Clara, young people traditionally have found out whether they made the cut from a cast list that’s posted online and at the ballet company’s Brentwood studio, managing director Nina Koch told the Contra Costa Times. (“Clara” receives a phone call.)
When a couple of advisory board parents suggested expanding on a marketing tactic the company had used last year (in which some families bought signs advertising the show and placed them in their yards), Koch ordered plastic signs and customized each with a handwritten announcement of the role that child would be playing.
Choreographers and parents in on the plot visited homes in Rio Vista, Mountain House, Discovery Bay, Brentwood, Oakley, and Antioch, for four hours one night, tiptoeing onto lawns and hammering in signs with mallets.
“It was complete shenanigans,” Koch said, recalling the time she jumped over a hedge while sprinting from the scene when a parent unexpectedly pulled into the driveway.
The merry band of messengers took photos as it made the rounds, posting its handiwork on Instagram and Facebook. To see the original story, visit http://www.contracostatimes.com/contra-costa-times/ci_26424586/eye-east-bay-young-ballet-dancers-get-happy.
Miami City Ballet will hold auditions this September for area children who would like to dance in this season’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker.
The production will feature a cast of more than 100, with many of the roles performed by children. Performances of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker will be held at Artis–Naples on December 6 and 7, at the Kravis Center December 27 to 30.
Auditions for dancers from Naples and the surrounding area will be held September 14 at Artis–Naples, 5833 Pelican Bay Boulevard, Naples. Auditions for Palm Beach County–area children will be held September 28 at Ballet East, 2365 Vista Parkway, Suite 7, West Palm Beach.
At both locations, MCB children’s ballet masters will audition prospective dancers ages 8 and up with previous ballet training beginning at 11:30am.
Naples rehearsals will be held daily from September 15 to 21, followed by weekly rehearsals beginning September 22 at Naples Academy of Ballet. Palm Beach County rehearsals will take place weekly on Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons beginning October 7 at Ballet East.
For more information, visit http://www.miamicityballet.org/news.php.
Colorado Ballet has completed the move into its new home, a 30,000-square foot building at the north end of Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe Drive, reported Broadway World.
The new $6.5 million facility features seven state-of-the-art dance studios for the company and the Colorado Ballet Academy. The Armstrong Theater, a multi-use black box theater equipped with theatrical lighting, sound, and telescoping seats, will function as both a dance studio and performance space. Improved amenities for the company include locker rooms, showers, and a physical therapy room. The new academy location also includes a safe student drop-off area and increased parking in the neighborhood for academy families.
Colorado Ballet artistic director Gil Boggs said the new facility will allow the ballet to grow its outreach efforts and bring dance to thousands of school kids and people with disabilities. “We will also host small performances and events in our new theater, exposing more people to the magic of dance in this thriving arts neighborhood,” he said.
“This is the first time in our nearly 54-year history that we will own our building, and that is very exciting for everyone involved with Colorado Ballet,” said Boggs. “We have so much to celebrate in our organization, not just the new building, but also last season’s record-breaking attendance and performance revenue and our upcoming season of performances.”
To see the original story, visit http://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwdance/article/Colorado-Ballet-Moves-into-Denvers-Art-District-20140828#.VACLxM90yUk.
Guests will have an opportunity to view exclusive excerpts from The Washington Ballet’s upcoming productions of ALICE (in wonderland), Swan Lake, and Christopher Wheeldon’s Polyphonia at its annual open house, September 21 from 2 to 5pm, at the ballet’s northwest DC location, 3515 Wisconsin Avenue.
Open house visitors can watch rehearsals and class demonstrations from The Washington School of Ballet, enjoy refreshments, and participate in family-friendly events and activities. Artistic director Septime Webre will talk about his process of creating full-length ballets, such as this upcoming season’s world premiere of Sleepy Hollow, in a Q&A.
The Washington School of Ballet will showcase class demonstrations with programs performed by students of the company’s northwest and southeast (TWB@THEARC) DC campuses. Representatives from the school will be on hand to answer questions about registration for the school and its classes conducted for children and adults at the southeast and northwest DC campuses.
Ongoing events during the day include makeup demonstrations, interactive kid-friendly “Make-A-Ballet” workshops, a costume try-on station, a “The Perfect Hair Bun” station, and pictures with professional dancers.
The event is free and open to the community. For more information, visit http://www.washingtonballet.org/_pdf/Press%20Releases%202014/The%20Washington%20Ballet%20Open%20House%20FINAL.pdf.
With a single swing of the ax, the new leadership of Pennsylvania Ballet has cleared out the longtime artistic pillars of the company, reported Philly.com.
Jeffrey Gribler is gone. The energetic personification of the company, who arrived in 1975 as an apprentice and quickly worked his way through the corps to become principal dancer and ballet master, was let go after nearly four decades. Tamara Hadley, who joined the same year and was much loved as principal dancer in the major classical roles, has been dismissed as ballet mistress. Also fired were William DeGregory, a star dancer before becoming director of the ballet school and Pennsylvania Ballet II, and former dancer Michael Sheridan, assistant to the artistic director and the cofounder of the annual AIDS fund-raiser Shut Up & Dance.
The dismissals—carried out Monday and not announced publicly by the company—come as Pennsylvania Ballet continues to remake itself after commissioning a report from arts consultant Michael M. Kaiser that, in the words of one ballet leader, aimed to bring the company “back to the top ranks of American ballet companies.”
In quick order after Kaiser’s evaluation a year ago, both artistic chief Roy Kaiser (not related to Michael Kaiser) and executive director Michael Scolamiero left, and by this July the company had appointed Spanish dancer Angel Corella as its new artistic director.
Asked Wednesday about the reasons for the dismissals, Corella said in an interview at the company’s headquarters: “I’m sure the people were great, but it was about the team you feel comfortable with. Energy is important in an arts organization. If you are comfortable, everything will fall into place.”
Julie Diana, who retired in April as principal dancer, has been appointed ballet mistress, and her husband, principal dancer Zachary Hench, the new ballet master. Corella said that he had known Hench and Diana for about seven or eight years before coming to Philadelphia, since bringing them to Spain to dance with his former company there.
The ballet also let go its marketing director, a member of the development staff, and the administrator of the ballet school. The school’s director will now be retired dancer Arantxa Ochoa, its former principal instructor, whom Corella said he had known from childhood when she was his sister’s best friend.
Ochoa was also a member of the search committee that named Corella artistic director.
To read the full story, visit http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20140828_Pennsylvania_Ballet_
Coldplay’s latest video, “True Love,” follows two “oversized” people falling into what we assume is true love—both face rejection that makes them feel like outsiders, and both are simply mad for the ballet.
Radio.com says actress Jessica Lucas plays an aspiring ballet dancer whose huge balloon body excludes her from realizing her dream of becoming a professional dancer. Coldplay singer Chris Martin is a janitor, sweeping up a theater housing the ballet. The pair, individually, face hardships like not fitting through doors and incurring the constant disdain of almost everyone they come into contact with.
Their meet-cute is after a ballet. As the theater clears, Lucas remains literally stuck in her seat. Martin takes to the stage to clean it—and to perform his own interpretative ballet. And then, they dance: together, with the knowledge that if no one else loves them they can love each other.
To see the original story and watch the video, visit http://radio.com/2014/08/22/coldplay-true-love-video-jessica-lucas/.
The Bad Boys of Ballet, a troupe of male dancers led by a solo female dancer, choreographer Adrienne Canterna, have made it to the America’s Got Talent semi-finals after all, thanks to a post-elimination save by judge Mel B.
The Maryland Gazette said the Gambrills-based group, which fuses classical ballet with hip-hop, jazz, and acrobatics, got word from celebrity judge Mel B just minutes after being eliminated last Wednesday night that she was using her judges’ “save” for the act.
“We screamed and cried,” Canterna said. “We were seriously over the moon, because it was just minutes after we got cut. She said she loved our act so much because we brought ballet to a new audience.”
Thanks to Mel B, they will dance again live tomorrow (August 26) in the hope of advancing toward the finals and the ultimate prize of $1 million.
“It has been such a roller coaster of emotions. We were so high from our performance and then so low after being eliminated,” said Canterna, who added that she and the six male dancers that make up the Bad Boys were a little surprised to be voted off because of the standing ovations they received from Mel B and judge Heidi Klum after their last performance.
To see the original story, visit http://www.capitalgazette.com/maryland_gazette/news/ph-ac-cn-bad-boys-back-0822-20140821,0,5661134.story.
A little more than a year ago, the Saint Paul [MN] Ballet company and school faced debt and considered cutting back on performances and even closing its doors. It reorganized as an artist-led organization, with dancers taking on administrative roles.
Heading into the 2014–15 season, it looks like the dancers’ dedication has paid off.
TwinCities.com—St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the company has expanded to nine professional dancers, plus five in training. More than 120 children and adults take classes every week and the school hopes to almost double enrollment with a second studio opening in September at 655 Fairview Avenue North, just north of University. The public is invited to learn more during an open house on Saturday.
“We hope that we can grow and we can have a company of 20 dancers,” says dancer and artistic director Zoe Henrot. “Our goal is to become a major landmark for ballet—for ballet training and performance and ballet for fun.”
The company recently landed a $38,000 state arts board operating grant to help pay guest choreographers and fund collaborations with artists such as local photographer Caroline Yang, who has been documenting performances, rehearsals, and backstage moments over the last nine months (www.instagram.com/carolineyangphoto).
The flexibility of being an artist-led organization has also brought some unusual and creative initiatives. Last spring, the company launched a “Take Back the Tutu” public awareness campaign around the issues of food disorders and body image. This fall, the ballet will offer a monthly lecture series focused on healthy dancing with talks from health providers and dancers.
While the Twin Cities does not have a large professional ballet company, it boasts a handful of small ones, including the nationally respected James Sewell Ballet based at Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts in downtown Minneapolis. Other small companies are affiliated with schools, including Minnesota Dance Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota Ballet in downtown St. Paul, and Continental Ballet in Bloomington.
To read more, visit http://www.twincities.com/stage/ci_26374036/st-paul-ballet-growin-by-small-leaps.
Employees of the JW Marriott chain of luxury hotel properties will be learning how to improve their own performance from an organization that knows performance inside and out—the Joffrey Ballet.
The Chicago Business Journal reported that JW Marriott is expected to formally announce next week a new program called “Poise and Grace,” a service training program for JW Marriott staff that is based on the rigorous practice techniques used by ballet dancers.
The Chicago-based Joffrey dancers and artistic director Ashley Wheater are featured in four new videos that address different aspects of proper service techniques that JW Marriott wants to impress upon its staff so they can impress hotel guests.
In the videos, Wheater talks about the value of warm-up exercises, proper breathing, flow of movement, and—perhaps most important—connecting to the audience, a technique that is essential in the performing arts and apparently one that JW Marriott Hotels executives want to impress upon their staff.
In the video about connecting with an audience, Wheater discusses the importance of eye contact, use of specific gestures, and a performer’s crucial need to own his or her specific air of confidence and discipline.
JW Marriott Hotels plans to use the videos to develop and train staff at 64 of its properties in 26 countries worldwide. To see the original story, visit http://www.bizjournals.com/chicago/news/2014/08/20/j-marriott-turns-to-joffrey-ballet-to-elevate.html.
New Line Cinema has optioned the inspirational true story of ballet prodigy Misty Copeland, who fought against the odds to become only the second African American female soloist to dance with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, reported Deadline.
Adam Shankman (director/choreographer of the musical films Hairspray, Rock of Ages) and his sister, Jennifer Gibgot (the Step Up franchise), alongside Phil Sandhaus, will produce the feature film, to be adapted from Copeland’s bestselling memoir, Life In Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina.
The film will focus on Copeland from age 13, when she began ballet training at the local Boys & Girls Club while living in a welfare motel with her mother and siblings, through her years living part-time with a sponsor family while attending dance school, and the bitter custody battle that broke out between her mother and her host family as her ballet career skyrocketed.
Filmmakers will be searching for a multi-talented young performer with dance training to play Copeland. The project also has meaty roles for two actresses to play Copeland’s mother and mentor.
Copeland, who will work with producers as a consultant, has performed with Prince at Madison Square Garden, serves on President Obama’s fitness council, and appeared as a guest judge this season on Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance. Next month she will make history again as the first African American ballerina to dance the lead in ABT’s Swan Lake. Her memoir, which she co-wrote with author Charisse Jones, burned up the New York Times’ bestseller list after hitting shelves in March.
To see the original story, visit http://deadline.com/2014/08/misty-copeland-life-in-motion-new-line-movie-biopic-819569/.
The Joffrey Ballet is holding an “open” rehearsal today for its upcoming production of Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake, and balletomanes around the country are welcome to attend.
For the first time in the company’s history, the Joffrey will be live streaming a rehearsal today, August 21, from 11:30am to 3pm, via its online YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/TheJoffreyBallet).
During the rehearsal, Wheeldon will coach the dancers as they work on his reimagined version of the ballet classic, which sets the story in the 19th century and follows a young boy, Siegfried, who daydreams of escaping his own Swan Lake rehearsals, thus positioning the story as a ballet within a ballet. Joffrey artistic director Ashley Wheater will serve as host and moderator for viewers, introducing Wheeldon and conducting brief interviews with Wheeldon and lead dancers during periodic rehearsal breaks.
The Joffrey premiere of Wheeldon’s Swan Lake, set for October 15 to 26 at the Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress Parkway, Chicago, represents the first time The Joffrey Ballet has ever presented any version of Swan Lake in its almost 60-year history. The $1.5 million production features opulent costumes by Jean-Marc Puissant, scenic design by Adrianne Lobel, and music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
For more information, visit www.joffrey.org.
According to Flanders Today, the Royal Ballet of Flanders has ended its contract with artistic director Assis Carreiro, the organization announced last week. In a short statement, the now merged ballet and opera said performances would continue as programmed.
“We have all it takes to continue on our path to represent classical ballet in all its forms and possibilities in Flanders and abroad,” said general manager Lena De Meerleer.
Hired in 2012, Carreiro was a controversial choice for the role of artistic director. She had little dance experience, unions complained, and mainly worked in coordinating roles. “She let it be known that she will not be attending rehearsals or auditions herself, but will bring in assistants and consultants to support her in those activities,” Servais Le Compte of union ACV-Transcom Cultuur told De Standaard in 2012. “But judging dancers is by far one of the most important jobs of an artistic director.”
Over the last two years, the company has toured far less, giving dancers fewer opportunities to perform, and the level of physical conditioning decreased, with injuries suffered routinely by dancers taking longer to heal. A dossier was put together containing “dozens” of complaints to be submitted to the committee charged with accident prevention and protection in the workplace.
Dancers wrote a letter to the organization’s board late last year citing that 69% of them had voted no confidence in the artistic director. Eventually, one-third of the company left—15 dancers out of 45, including some of the more prominent names. The ballet will name a successor as quickly as possible, the statement said.
To see the original story, visit http://www.flanderstoday.eu/art/royal-ballet-flanders-parts-company-assis-carreiro.
Free dance performances, classes, and demonstrations will take center stage during Kansas City Ballet’s fourth annual KC Dance Day at the Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity on August 23 from 9am to 6:30pm.
Artistic director Devon Carney said about 2,000 area residents of all ages are expected to enjoy the day, which will include dance performances by local companies, plus an open rehearsal by Kansas City Ballet and the KCB second company and trainees, with a sneak peek of the ballet’s upcoming production of Alice (In Wonderland).
More than 20 dance and movement classes open to the public include creative movement and pre-ballet for ages 3 to 8, ballet for ages 8 to 11, and Zumba, Pilates mat, hip-hop, jazz, modern, ballet, tap, and yoga for ages 12 and up.
World dance classes appropriate for all ages will include Hawaiian, Irish step, Spanish, West African, Mexican, and Chinese.
Doors open at 8:30am, with classes running from 9:15 to 4:45pm. Registration for free classes is available online. For more information, visit www.kcballet.org.
New York City Ballet’s annual Fall Gala will once again celebrate ballet and fashion, with costumes by an international roster of some of the fashion world’s most renowned talents.
Broadway World said designers Thom Browne, Sarah Burton, Valentino Garavani, Carolina Herrera, and Mary Katrantzou will provide the stylish dancewear, while NYCB dancers present world premieres by choreographers Justin Peck, Liam Scarlett, and Troy Schumacher, as well as existing works by Peter Martins and Christopher Wheeldon.
The gala evening will take place September 23 at New York City Ballet’s home at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the David H. Koch Theater, and will launch NYCB’s four-week Fall Season, which will run from September 23 through October 19. All five ballets on the September 23 gala evening will also be performed October 2, 7, 9, and 11.
Actress, producer, and philanthropist Sarah Jessica Parker, vice-chair of the NYCB board of directors and who has been instrumental in bringing together the worlds of ballet and fashion for the special gala evening at NYCB, will serve as a chairman for the event for the third consecutive year.
To see the full story, visit http://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwdance/article/New-York-City-Ballets-2014-Fall-Gala-to-be-Held-923-20140804#.U-Djb890yUk.
Walking into a ballet class, you expect certain things. Plenty of pliés and pirouettes, perhaps an instructor calling out moves or clapping in time with the music. What you don’t expect is the overwhelming smell of chlorine, says the Wisconsin State Journal.
At the Madison Contemporary Vision Dance summer intensive program in July, dancers took a break from their traditional ballet classes and worked on their technique in the pool. “It gives them a different perspective and helps them focus on what muscles they should be activating while they’re in certain moves to make them more graceful,” said instructor Allison Kenison.
Artistic director Sara Willcutt said her program is unique to their school. “There are some swim clubs that offer (what they call) water ballet classes, but that is more like synchronized swimming,” Willcutt said.
Willcutt developed the classes by chance during her pregnancy. “I was amazed by how I was able to move in the water,” Willcutt said. “I could really move, even though it was hard for me to dance at that point in my pregnancy. I thought it would be a great way to teach ballet movements.”
Kenison explained that resistance created by the water slows and controls the dancers’ movements, giving them more time to think about how they should position their arms, the degree to which they need arch their back, or if their toes are pointed. She said it also makes dancers more aware of the muscles they’re engaging in each move. “We’re trying to teach them to relate what they do in the water with what they do out of it,” Kenison said.
“If we slow it down like this, we can think more about the transitions in our movements, which helps us be better artists,” Kenison said. “It allows for more time to melt into the next move and smooth out the movement.”
Founder of the arts website Ballet to the People, Carla Escoda, reports in the Huffington Post that four dance artists have employed the much maligned Google Glass to create dance video that can, for the first time, integrate what the dancer sees into the work that she is performing. Google Glass can also send text and audio instructions to the dancer via the tiny prism display on her forehead; and can send her visual inspiration, or deliberately disrupt her concentration.
In June 2013, Google launched a competition on Twitter soliciting bids from people interested in beta-testing its latest foray into wearable high tech. The winners—known as Glass Explorers—ponied up $1,500 for the privilege of membership in a highly exclusive club of early adopters.
But many have expressed outrage over perceived invasion of privacy, and Google and other tech firms have become a symbol of corporate greed.
Google, in part to mitigate the negative response, recently bestowed grants on five non-profits who will use Glass in their community outreach, including Mark Morris Dance Group, which will incorporate the use of Glass in their work with Parkinson’s patients.
Amid the swirl of controversy surrounding Glass, Ballet to the People assembled four of the hottest young dance-makers in the San Francisco Bay Area to experiment with the technology.
At the heart of the groundbreaking experimental film, titled Capture, Milissa Payne Bradley pays sly homage to the iconic Russian classic Swan Lake, using Glass as a magical tool that transforms sea birds into young women trapped on the beach.
Dexandro “D” Montalvo collaborated with his dancer, Babatunji Johnson, to convey the experience of dance from the eyes of a dancer, and the evolution of breakdance from gestures that implicitly mark out a dancer’s social identity.
Lauren Benjamin worked in the movement style of House Dance, whose freedom, positive energy and playful spirit to her evokes the qualities that children naturally bring to their exploration of the world.
Robert Dekkers plays with the notion that we use technology to hide, to craft and project an image of ourselves. His dancers wear Glass to signify a partial revealing (and concealing) of one’s genuine self.
To read the original story and to view the video, visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carla-escoda/dances-with-google-glass_b_5663708.html.
Salt Lake City’s Ballet West will celebrate the grand opening of its new Ballet West Academy at Thanksgiving Point with a week of free children and adult classes August 18 to 22.
Available classes will include contemporary plus many levels of ballet from Dance Discovery (age 3) and pre-ballet (age 4) to advanced level 7. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is also planned for August 22.
The program at Ballet West Academy at Thanksgiving Point will feature a classical ballet focus under the direction of former company dancer Jennie Creer-King, and offer children the opportunity to dance in professional performances throughout a full season.
“It’s such an exciting time for growth and expansion for Ballet West, and we’re thrilled for this opportunity to serve an even larger community with this new Academy location,” said Ballet West executive director Scott Altman. “There is such a passion for the arts in Utah County, and we’re honored to bring renowned Ballet West training to children and adults alike.”
Ballet West Academy attracts more than 550 students every year. Last year’s students came from 37 states and 2 foreign countries. For more information, visit http://www.balletwest.org/thanksgivingpoint.
With performances during its inaugural season under its belt, organizers of San Antonio’s newest ballet company, Ballet Latino de San Antonio, are working on the fall 2014 schedule as well as plans for performing abroad next year.
The San Antonio Express-News said Ballet Latino is the city’s second professional ballet company. Ballet San Antonio, the resident ballet company at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, was the first. Both companies were started by the same woman, Mayra Worthen, a native of Puerto Rico and a graduate of Texas Christian University.
Her new company is a perfect fit in a city where Latin music is as familiar and welcome as country and western, she said. “Ballet Latino is a neo-classical company that celebrates Hispanic cultures by combining classical ballet with Latin rhythms such as salsa,” Worthen said.
Most of the members, she said, are from countries such as Venezuela, Mexico, Cuba, and Italy, and well-versed in Latin music.
Worthen is looking to obtain sponsors and funds to put Ballet Latino on firm financial footing, and is working on the fall season and negotiating to take the troupe north next year. Ballet Latino has been invited to perform at a dance festival in Canada in the spring, Worthen said.
This month, ABT has awarded Project Plié scholarships to seven teachers from around the country who have shown enthusiasm and dedication to teaching children from underserved communities.
The teachers participated in American Ballet Theatre’s National Training Curriculum summer session and have all been certified in Pre-Primary Level through Level 3. The 2014 NTC Teacher Training Scholarship recipients are:
• Fabian Barnes, a former soloist with Dance Theatre of Harlem and founder and artistic director of the Dance Institute of Washington in Washington, DC. His outreach program, Positive Directions Through Dance, was awarded in 2011 with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities—the most prestigious award this country gives for working with at-risk youth.
• Lawrence Lemon, founder of the Nomel Inspirational Dance Theater, and also founder and director of the Ohio Black Dance Festival in Columbus, Ohio. As the director of dance at Ohio Avenue After School Youth Program, he currently directs an arts integration program for several charter schools.
• Adam McKinney, a former dancer with Béjart Ballet Lausanne, Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. As chair of the dance department at New Mexico School for the Arts, he works to provide a diverse group of young people high quality academic and artistic education as he shows them what might be possible through ballet education.
• Kimberley Stewart, owner and artistic director of the Arabesque Dance Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio, is also a licensed social worker who works with children who have been the victims of abuse and neglect. In 2013, she was presented with a Community Leadership Award from President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition for her work to build and diversify the dance program in Toledo, Ohio, area YMCAs.
• Sarah Williams, core teacher of ballet at Keshet Dance Company in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The company is a non-profit whose professional dancers work within the community as teachers and mentors in Albuquerque, following its mission to “provide a strong base of positive mentorship for homeless and incarcerated youth and demolish misconceptions about individuals with physical disabilities.”
• Joseph Malbrough, a former principal dancer with Chicago City Ballet, Ballet Chicago, and L’Opera de Lausanne, who currently teaches at Ballet Academy East and is a lecturer/faculty in the Conservatory of Dance School of the Arts at Purchase College.
• Khilea Douglass, a former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Broadway dancer who currently dances for the Lula Washington Dance Theatre and also teaches ballet and modern at the school, which is comprised of a community of underrepresented children ages 8 to 15.
For more information, visit http://www.abt.org/education/projectplie/teachertraining/NTCrecipients.asp.
The Nashville Ballet is embarking on an unprecedented public fundraising campaign to finance an expansion project to grow studio space, renovate its Sylvan Heights headquarters, and dramatically increase the number of students, reported the Tennessean.
The nonprofit organization has already raised $3.7 million out of its goal of $5.5 million.
Plans call for the Martin Center for Nashville Ballet to grow from 3.5 studios to seven, and from 31,000 square feet to 44,000 square feet. Lobby space will be renovated, and bathrooms and locker rooms will also be upgraded.
“A big part of Nashville Ballet’s reputation, business, and role is to provide ballet education and dance education to the community,” said Nashville Ballet CEO and artistic director Paul Vasterling said, who added that the expansion will allow the ballet to offer more classes to students.
Student enrollment (from toddlers to adults) has increased from about 600 students in 2011 to 1,200 in 2013. Gerry Hayden, who serves as treasurer for the board of directors, anticipates that, following the expansion and renovation, the number of dance class students will increase by 1,200, about double its current capacity.
American Ballet Theatre is donating some 50,000 documents to the Library of Congress, and to celebrate the gift, the library is readying an exhibition, “American Ballet Theatre: Touring the Globe for 75 Years,” which is to open August 14 at its James Madison Memorial Building in Washington, DC, and travel to the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles in March.
The New York Times said the materials, accumulated during ABT’s sometimes bumpy 74-year history, had mostly been stored in its costume warehouses, but had also piled up in old file drawers or been donated by the boxful by relatives of alumni. There are scrapbooks of press clippings carefully cut and pasted by Lucia Chase, the founding director of Ballet Theatre; programs from state dinners for the prime minister of Japan and the president of Ivory Coast; and diaries and tour itineraries that reflect the grueling nature of rehearsals and life on the road.
George Balanchine’s 1947 contract for Theme and Variations is there. It stipulated that he would be paid $25 per performance in the first year, with his compensation falling to $15 by the third. Amid the mounds of papers also lies Jerome Robbins’s 1944 contract for Fancy Free. As a novice choreographer, he was offered only $10 per performance, with no mention of the ballet being staged beyond one year. (Little did they know.)
Rachel Moore, Ballet Theatre’s chief executive, said company officials had been worrying for years about how to conserve the papers and allow public access to them. A solution was suggested by Victoria Phillips, a Ballet Theatre board member and dance historian who had worked at the Library of Congress.
“[The library has] a number of dance-related collections—Martha Graham, Oliver Smith, Nijinska—and also collections that have crossover with Ballet Theatre, like Leonard Bernstein,” Phillips said. “So it wasn’t just bringing a dance collection to them, but also something that could be cross read by scholars.”
To read the full story, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/07/arts/dance/ballet-theater-donating-trove-of-materials-to-library-of-congress.html?_r=0.
The public is invited to meet Jacques d’Amboise, former New York City Ballet dancer and longtime dance educator, at the National Museum of Dance, Saratoga Springs, New York, on August 10 at 11am.
D’Amboise won esteem for his performing career on stage and in films such as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. In 1976 he founded the National Dance Institute, which annually provides dance instruction to 40,000 NYC low-income schoolchildren free of charge.
D’Amboise joins film legend Gene Kelly as one of the 2014 inductees to the museum’s Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame.
This event is free and open to the public. Brunch will be served. The National Museum of Dance, 99 South Broadway, is open for daily admissions Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm and Sunday from 12 noon to 4pm. For more information, visit www.dancemuseum.org or call 518.584.2225.
More than 40 pre-professional dancers ages 15 to 19 from around the world will be competing in the fourth annual Cecchetti International Classical Ballet Competition, to be held at the Carpenter Theatre at Richmond [VA] CenterStage, August 7 to 9.
“This is the first competition hosted in the U.S.,” Betty Seibert chairwoman of Cecchetti International Ballet and board member of Cecchetti USA, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
She said the competition rotates among the seven organizations that compose the Cecchetti International Ballet, with the next competition to be held in Italy.
Each of the seven Cecchetti organizations uses the teaching and training methods of Italian ballet virtuoso and mime Enrico Cecchetti, who coached Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova exclusively from 1907 to 1909, and who created the system of technique exercises and training known as the Cecchetti method.
The public is welcome to attend individual solo performances on Thursday and Friday beginning at 7pm, as well as a gala reception with the announcement of winners on Saturday.
General admission tickets for Thursday and Friday nights are $37, with the gala reception at $77. Packages of all three events are available. Tickets can be purchased at Richmond CenterStage Box Office, online at www.etix.comor at 800.514.3849.
A group of French ballet stars from the renowned Paris Opera held classes for dozens of students last month in the shadow of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. It was the group’s second visit to the region since the 2011 disaster, reported the Japan Times.
The troupe of about 10 dancers gave technique advice and offered moral support as the youngsters try to return to a normal life after the worst atomic crisis in a generation.
“Today I learned where to put my hands when I’m turning and how to express myself through movement,” said Moyu Sakai, 12, a student at the Hitomi Takeuchi Ballet School in Fukushima, about 60 kilometers from the plant.
Like tens of thousands of others, Sakai and her family fled their home after the tsunami hit the Fukushima plant, sending reactors into meltdown. “I could only think about ballet. As soon as I returned, I started my lessons again,” Sakai said.
French ballet star Dorothee Gilbert praised the children. “I think they are courageous. It’s tough to recover from a disaster like that and move on,” she said. “They’re very diligent and have some good dance skills.”
The troupe visited five schools last weekend, in Fukushima, Sendai, and Ishinomaki. Yuka Oba, 26, a former student of the school who left after the disaster and now dances professionally in the U.S., said some of her former classmates were still living in tough circumstances.
“But when they dance with all their might, that helps them feel better and forget the situation,” Oba said. “That is fantastic to be able to escape reality, even if it’s just while they’re dancing.”
An ad opens with a letter being read aloud by a young girl:
“Dear Candidate. Thank you for your application to our ballet academy. Unfortunately you have not been accepted. You lack the right feet, Achilles tendons, turnout, torso length, and bust. You have the wrong body for ballet, and at 13, you are too old to be considered.”
The words are taken from rejection letters Misty Copeland received over the years—long before the American Ballet Theatre soloist became the new face of Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” campaign, which focuses on the apparel giant’s women’s business.
ESPN said it’s hard not to get chills from the highly edited version of Copeland’s life that is presented in Under Armour’s new ad. And it doesn’t even scratch the surface as to what she went through (a broken home, poverty, and a late start at age 13 in a Boys & Girls Club ballet class) and what she became.
Says Copeland: “Life was so hard that I think that I almost needed to become a ballet dancer to develop as a person.”
While some might call the company’s signing of Copeland risky, in a cluttered media world she—unlike Under Armour endorsers such as skier Lindsey Vonn, tennis player Sloane Stephens, and soccer player Kelley O’Hara—raises eyebrows just by her presence.
The sponsorship deal has been huge for Copeland, too. Soloists like her, she says, generally make between $50,000 and $100,000 a year at the ballet company. She’s near the top of that pay range these days, and she says the Under Armour deal actually pays her more than ballet does.
To read the original story and see the ad, visit http://espn.go.com/espnw/athletes-life/article/11291626/espnw-why-armour-banking-ballerina-misty-copeland.
Two 15-year-old dancers with Vancouver’s Goh Ballet have won the top two prizes in the Wien Welt Wettbewerb Ballet Competition in Vienna, the first time two Canadian dancers won both prizes in the international competition’s seven-year history, the Vancouver Sun reports.
The winners were Michelle Khoo, who won gold as well as the Most Talented Young Performer award in contemporary, and Chihiro Abe, who won silver, after competing with more than 200 dancers from 20 countries.
“I’m so proud of them winning the gold and silver medal at the same time,” said Goh Ballet founder Choo Chiat Goh. “I’m so proud of my city and I’m so proud of my country. They are very beautiful dancers for the future.”
Both dancers have been training with the Goh Ballet for more than a decade and it was the first time either of them participated in an international competition.
Goh Ballet Academy director Chan Hon Goh, who represented Canada as the only North American judge, said: “I was extremely proud of the Canadian representation here in Vienna as their love of dance radiated across to the audience. Vienna is a recognizable center for the arts that is well-respected and admired for its cultural history. It brought such joy to my heart to be able to see Goh Ballet dancers prove their accomplishments on this international stage.”
To see the original story, visit http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/
Several protestors sang the Ukrainian National Anthem and spoke out to decry the recent actions of Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Bolshoi Ballet’s opening night performance in Saratoga Springs, New York, this week, reported Time Warner Cable News.
Andrij Baran, president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee in the Capital District, said Tuesday’s protest in the Saratoga Performing Arts Center parking lot wasn’t meant to criticize the dancers of the Bolshoi Ballet, one of the oldest Russian ballet companies in the world, currently on a tour of the U.S. and Canada. Rather, the protesters hoped to draw attention to the tensions in Eastern Europe.
“There are many children and people killed,” said Ukrainian local Marion Swidersky. “We still have relatives there. I have nieces and nephews, and [other protesters] have children and grandchildren. We try to call public attention that while they’re enjoying art, they have to remember those killed by Russian targets.”
This week marked the first performance of the Bolshoi in Saratoga Springs. Bill Fraley was on hand to watch a little piece of history. “To remember all the steps, first of all, and to see them dance all of that, it’s kind of interesting to see that,” he said. “We’re very lucky to be here.”
Hours earlier, President Obama and the European Union imposed severe sanctions against Russia. Obama has criticized Putin for the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Christopher Stowell, former artistic director of Oregon Ballet Theatre, has been appointed to the title of ballet master and assistant to the artistic director at San Francisco Ballet.
Beginning August 25, Stowell—who danced with SF Ballet for 16 years—will oversee a number of artistic duties in addition to those held by former ballet master and assistant to the artistic director Bruce Sansom.
Stowell will report to SF Ballet artistic director and principal choreographer Helgi Tomasson, and work with the ballet’s administrative team on matters of planning, budgeting, and program expense management. He will also assist with scheduling, and artist and season management. As ballet master, Stowell will teach company class and rehearse ballets for the repertory season.
Born in New York City, Stowell received his training at Pacific Northwest Ballet School and the School of American Ballet before joining SF Ballet in 1985. Stowell has taught and coached in San Francisco, New York, Japan, China, and Europe, and has created new works for SF Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Diablo Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, as well as the New York City Ballet Choreographic Institute.
Stowell served as OBT’s artistic director from 2003 to 2012. For more information, visit http://www.sfballet.org/about/media_center/press_releases/Chris_Stowell.
In a mid-sized company like Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, a corps de ballet member is usually a face in the crowd—a villager, one in a group of friends, a supporting player.
But after his final PBT performance as the foppish nobleman Gamache in Don Quixote, Stephen Hadala took center stage, surrounded by the entire company. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said it was the first time in more than 40 years that PBT had so honored a member of the corps de ballet.
Maybe that was because the 16-year veteran was in a class by himself, above the usual distinctions between principal dancer, soloist, and corps. During his career, he never coveted a promotion. His steadiness, work ethic, and sense of humor made him a “rock” of the company, his colleagues say.
Robert Vickrey, assistant to the artistic director, recalls how the young Hadala would attend a full day of PBT rehearsals then walk to a full-time job at a Rite Aid.
“It was his determination and perseverance,” Vickrey said. “He never slacked off. He kept his nose to the grindstone and was always in class. But there was no one in the world who was more fun than Stephen. You could say anything to him and he had an answer for it.”
Hadala joined the company in 1998, and quickly began to show a gift for character roles, making his mark as Dracula, Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Dr. Coppelius in Coppélia.
“Stephen personalized roles no matter how big or how small,” PBT principal dancer Julia Erickson said. “He made something out of everything.”
He gradually developed into a secure partner, debuted in contemporary works, helped to train new dancers, and, as union representative for 14 years, won the respect of management and fellow dancers.
Hadala will return to Detroit so he and his sister can take over the Allard Academy of Dance, the place where everything began. To read the full story, visit http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/theater-dance/2014/07/27/Pittsburgh-Ballet-Theatre-loses-a-rock-as-Hadala-retires/stories/201407230001.
Often called “one of the finest dancers of his generation,” American Ballet Theatre standout Ángel Corella has been appointed artistic director of the Pennsylvania Ballet.
“We are incredibly excited to be bringing a director with this level of talent, experience, and passion into our community,” board co-chair David Hoffman said in a release. “Pennsylvania Ballet is at the threshold of a new and dynamic era that calls for an artistic leader with the vision, energy, and creativity to excite audiences. Ángel has the power to make Philadelphia one of the most exhilarating dance cities in the world.”
Born and raised in Madrid, Spain, Corella joined ABT in 1995 and was promoted to principal dancer the following year. He is credited with elevating the technique and artistry of male dancing throughout the world and possessing incredible technical skills matched only by his warmth and passion for the dance.
Corella has spent the last six years in Spain as director of his own company, originally the Corella Ballet Castilla y León, which became the Barcelona Ballet. “Pennsylvania Ballet has such a great reputation, such great dancers and such a loyal audience,” he said. “My dream is to build on this rich history, its Balanchine legacy, and make the company a center for all the best in ballet, a true national model.”
He will replace Roy Kaiser, who is stepping down after 19 years as artistic director to assume the title of artistic director emeritus. To see the full release, visit http://www.paballet.org/pennsylvania-ballet-trustees-appoint-%C3%A1ngel-corella-artistic-director.
Five sumptuous Royal Ballet productions will be broadcast to more than 360 cinema screens in the U.S. October through May as part of the 2014–15 Royal Ballet Cinema Season, presented by Fathom Events and the Royal Opera House.
Killer Aphrodite said four ballets will be captured live from London: Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon on October 16, Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on December 16, Anthony Dowell’s Swan Lake on March 19, and Frederick Ashton’s La Fille Mal Gardée on May 5. Rounding out the season is the broadcast of the prerecorded The Winter’s Tale on February 17, also choreographed by Wheeldon.
Each event in the series will also feature 15 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage including interviews with the performers and specially captured rehearsal elements.
Alastair Roberts, managing director of Royal Opera House Enterprises, said the ballet is excited not only about the expanded cinema broadcast season, but also about its planned 2015 tour of the U.S., with performances set for Chicago, Washington, DC, and New York City.
Tickets for the 2014–15 Royal Ballet Cinema Season are on sale at participating theater box offices and online at www.FathomEvents.com. For more information about Royal Opera House and the ballet series, visit www.roh.org.uk.
To see the original story, visit http://www.killeraphrodite.com/2014/07/news-royal-opera-house-ballet-series-returns-2nd-season-u-s-cinemas/.
The Cape Dance Festival, scheduled for July 26 at 6pm at the Province Lands Amphitheatre in Provincetown, Massachusetts, has been a labor of love for co-founders Stacey-Jo Marine and Liz Wolff. And that affection for increasing the amount of dance performance on the Cape has been embraced throughout the region.
“The summer program this year will have a different feel with a lot of new work,” says Marine in Provincetown Magazine. “Newer work and a fresh vibe.”
Scheduled performers include Boston Ballet soloist John Lam, along with dancers from the Martha Graham Dance Company, CorbinDances, Nickerson-Rossi Dance, Take Dance, Mazzini Dance Collective, Pedro Ruiz, and Project Moves Dance Company.
Marine and Wolff formed Cape Dance Festival in 2013 to bring world-class dance to the residents and visitors of Cape Cod through education, altruism, and performance. Marine, who teaches dance production at Marymount Manhattan College, is currently touring with the Martha Graham Dance Company as production supervisor. Wolff is a life-long summer resident of the Cape who danced professionally in New York and Cleveland for 15 years, and is the co-curator for Dance On Camera, a film festival held annually at Lincoln Center, NYC.
The Province Lands Amphitheater is located at 171 Race Point Road, next to the Province Lands Visitor Center. For more information, visit http://capedancefestival.com/.
Talk about worlds colliding. For the past three years, since David Hallberg made headlines by becoming the first American—and first foreigner—to be named a principal dancer at the storied Bolshoi Ballet, Hallberg, a blond, elegant dancer from the American heartland, has lived what he calls two separate lives—his American life, in New York (where he still dances for American Ballet Theatre), and his Russian life, in Moscow.
But last week, the two converged, as the Bolshoi performed in New York for the first time in nearly a decade.
An Associated Press story in the Houston Chronicle said that over the past three years Hallberg has become known as sort of a ballet diplomat: a dancer who took the reverse journey to the one Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov took many years earlier, when they defected. He’s hired a personal publicist, travels the world making guest appearances, and has been a subject of artsy fashion magazine shoots.
He’s feeling “more and more part of the fabric of the Bolshoi.” Almost everyone has been welcoming, he says, down to the cleaners in the hallways. “They all want to say good morning, practice their English,” he laughs.
As for his own Russian, it’s been a slow process. In time, though, he’s built a nice Moscow social life, he says—not so much with dancers as with designers, photographers, stylists, and artists. He’s developed an affinity for a city he once hated—and doesn’t seem to mind the cold.
At work, he’s found that he’s immersed mainly in the classics, like Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. While that can be satisfying, and is physically quite demanding, he says he needs to find time to stretch himself with contemporary choreographers. “I just have to stay aware, because it could turn into all Swan Lakes, all around the world,” he says.
He adds: “You know, when I went to the Bolshoi, I thought, ‘This could totally blow up in my face. I could be back in New York in six months.’ But sometimes life says, ‘Listen, this is what’s going to happen. This is the ride that you’re going to go on.’ ”
To read the full story, visit http://www.chron.com/entertainment/article/A-full-circle-moment-for-Bolshoi-s-American-star-5628393.php.
Some 130 representatives of 30 countries are taking part in the 26th edition of the International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria, which aims at finding young talents in classical and contemporary ballet.
2014 marks 50 years since the inaugural Varna festival, founded in 1964 as the world’s first professional international competition. Vladimir Vasiliev from Russia will serve as jury chair for this year’s panel, which includes judges from Cuba, Bulgaria, USA, Japan, Germany, Romania, Monaco, Argentina, France, Korea, China, and Kazakhstan.
Ballet fans around the world can tune in next week as some of the competition and special events are broadcast live on BNT World July 26, 27, 29, and 30 at 8pm Central European Summer Time. (To access the broadcast, visit http://tv.bnt.bg/bntworld/.)
Competition began Tuesday. The third round will take place July 26 and 27. Prizes will be awarded at the official closing ceremony July 29, followed by a Super Gala, “Meeting of Generations,” on July 30.
To learn more about Varna, visit http://www.varna-ibc.org/site/?lang=en.
The London Boys Ballet School, the first of its kind in the UK, is dedicated entirely to boys, according to its founder James Anthony, who hopes to remove the stigma surrounding boys doing ballet, reports BBC News London.
Anthony, 33, a former teacher and sports coach, says he started the school partially because “I really wanted to take up ballet when I was at school but I thought I would get bullied.”
He said he hoped to stop other boys being put off by creating an environment where they do not feel like the odd ones out. “It’s all about changing the image. There’s nothing girly about the “huge amounts of strength, confidence, flexibility, and athletic ability,” needed by males who dance, he said.
Royal Ballet School figures show the number of boys who applied for full-time training there increased by 30 percent in the past two years. Elsewhere, Matthew Bourne—probably Britain’s best-known choreographer—recently recruited more than 300 novice dancers for his Lord of the Flies tour, in an attempt to get more young men dancing.
And the school has appeared to be receiving recognition from far afield, ever since it opened in March. “We get emails from all over the world praising us for what we do,” Anthony adds.
To read the full story, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-28129203.
Joan Myers Brown is a Philadelphia legend: in 1960 she started a school—and a decade later, the dance company Philadanco—hoping to nullify entrenched racism in ballet, modern, and theatrical dance. She is also founder of the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD), a performance forum and broad-based cultural exchange.
But when Brown received a National Medal for the Arts Award from President Obama last year, she said she was honored, but more concerned with the fiscal shape of her company, reported the
Huffington Post. Today, at age 82 and getting ready for her company’s 45th season, there is no time for a victory lap.
“If I don’t get the company back on its feet, financially, I’m going to have start from scratch,” Brown said. For years she has been one of the few companies to contract her dancers with year-round salaries, and recently she was forced to put them on a two-month furlough.
Philadanco is anything but a static dance company; Brown nurtures new choreographers and new artistic collaborations with other city arts institutions like the Philadelphia Orchestra. The company typically tours 40-plus weeks a year, with many dates sold out. But it never makes enough in ticket sales to pay all the bills. Like many other arts organizations, dance companies have to secure grants and corporate funding to remain solvent, but dance grants are disappearing or becoming more bureaucratically arbitrary and difficult to negotiate.
Brown echoes the frustration of a lot of artistic directors who have proven track records, yet still have to prove themselves worthy. “Being dictating to, what you can and can’t do, so you are not allowed to do your art. I get grants, but there are strings attached.” Rather than lamenting, Brown is even more resolute. The company will head out on another European tour in January.
To read the full story, visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lew-whittington/despite-fiscal-setbacks-p_b_5584763.html?utm_hp_ref=arts&ir=Arts.
Close to 250 students take classes at Ballet Idaho Academy, including one male dancer who is beating the odds while hoping for a future in ballet, reports KTVB.com.
“I get a lot of attention,” admits dancer Antonio Carnell, 15, who is into his sixth year of study at Ballet Idaho. Carnell was prenatally exposed to drugs, born premature, and went through withdrawal. He lived in foster homes in St. Louis, Missouri, before being adopted at age 3 by Michael and Diane Carnell, who brought Antonio to Boise and gave him a safe place to grow.
“Even when he was little he was such a performer,” said Diane. When he showed an interest in dance at age 10, his family encouraged him. A dance scholarship at Ballet Idaho sealed the deal.
Antonio’s teachers say he has a natural ability. “He has a wonderful stage personality,” said academy director Emily Wallace. “And you really see that in him, that drive to perfection.”
The teenager is working hard to reach his goal of becoming an accomplished dancer, including taking part in a summer intensive in Oregon for the next few weeks. Instructors in Boise say he has the potential to keep growing, and perhaps dance in a ballet company in the future.
To see the original story, visit http://www.ktvb.com/story/news/local/2014/07/15/boise-teen-ballet-adversity/12681599/.